Counting Down to Engage! Expo’s Exploration of the Evolution of Play (and New Business Opportunities)

In just over two weeks, Toy Industry Association (TIA) President Carter Keithley will join with Joseph Olin, president of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences and Timothy Chang, principal of Northwest Venture Partners, to kick off the Games, Technology and Toys track of the Engage Conference and Expo that will be held Sept 22-23, 2010 in Santa Clara, California. A parallel track will be held on “Virtual Goods.” Across both tracks, attendees will have the opportunity to network and gain insights on the myriad links between and among toys, video games and Silicon Valley.

“The ‘Games, Technology and Toys’ track will cover business models, design, and development and investment issues surrounding social games, mobile games, virtual worlds and more,” explained Christopher Sherman, executive director of Engage Digital and Expo organizer.  “The ‘Virtual Goods’ track covers what developers need to know about leveraging virtual goods, and will cover social games, Facebook applications, virtual worlds and mobile applications.”

Led by Chris Kohler, Editor of GameLife at, the unique Games, Technology and Toys keynote will engage Keithley, Olin and Chang in a candid discussion that will span the evolution of markets in the age of the smart phones, social networks and the digital consumer.  Later in the conference, featured speaker Peter Vesterbacka, head of North America Operations for Finnish developer Rovio (creaters of the iPhone hit “Angry Birds,” which has reached 6.5 million downloads), will discuss how Rovio plans to turn Angry Birds into a powerhouse entertainment franchise.  David Steward, director of product at Playdom – one of a small group of developers that has created games that have reached millions of daily active users on Facebook within days of launch – will present a detailed case study of their top title, Social City.

In addition to the keynote and featured presentations, names familiar to the toy industry will be among the dozens of speakers at the event.  Reyne Rice, TIA toy trend specialist, will share an overview of the trends and innovations affecting today’s youth marketplace for toys, games, and entertainment; Anita Frazier, industry analyst for toys and games at The NPD Group will discuss the changing landscape for toys and games; and Sean McGowan, senior analyst for leisure and lifestyle at Needham & Company will view regarding the toy industry and where it is heading.  Armen Mkrtchyan, technology manager for toys and consumer electronics of Disney Consumer Products will review how his organization plans to standardize web-connected toys and Cynthia Neiman, vice president of marketing and business development for Mattel Digital Network will discuss the launch of Monster High as a case study of how to leverage digital to help launch a tween-targeted franchise. 

Earlybird registration has been extended until September 10th. Toy News Tuesday readers can save 15% off the All Access Pass by using the discount code TIAVIP when registering online.  Everyone in attendance will also receive a free copy of the Branded Virtual Goods Report.